Strategies for Writing

Audience/Purpose: For this assignment, the audience is you and I. You need to show me that you're well-informed on your issue, that you understand the range of positions people take, and why they take them.

Focus: Make sure that you have sufficiently defined (narrowed) your issue. Also, the issue should clearly be a debatable one.

Development: Since academic argument requires an understanding of the existing debate, you must show that the positions you've identified are, in fact, valid. This might take the form of summarizing sources, or perhaps quoting from sources. At any rate, you have to use the sources you've found through research to show that the positions really do exist within the ongoing debate.

Organization: This assignment does not require that you produce an actual essay. However, be sure to consider what will be the most effective way to organize your material, given the audience and purpose. For example, you might describe all three positions, then analyze all three, and then list what you agree and disagree with in each. Or you might describe, analyze and agree/disagree with one position at a time. These are two possibilities, but there are others open to you.

Analyzing the Positions: Make sure in your analysis to consider a variety of factors that could explain why people take each particular position. Consider your sources and what values/characteristics they might have, but also consider what other factors might influence people to take this position, and why. You might try to establish a hierarchy of values-that is, what do people who have this position value most? What is their most important concern?

Agree/Disagree: In discovering and explaining where your own views fit with the positions you've identified, remember that you do not have to "side" with one position. You might agree with some parts of a position and disagree with other parts. You might also agree with parts of two or three positions at the same time. Often, the most sophisticated arguments effectively combine points from different positions.

Part 2: Be sure to consider what claims and audiences are appropriate to your focus issue. Make sure to choose a claim your audience will realistically accept. You also should not choose an audience that already agrees with you, or an audience that is so strongly opposed that they would be unlikely to be convinced by your argument, no matter how credible and well-supported.